Watts Bar Project Manager Who Was Fired Had Sent Large Sums To Iran

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

The Watts Bar Nuclear Plant project manager who was recently fired by TVA sent large sums of money to his native Iran, according to documents in his divorce case.

TVA officials have not said why Masoud Bajestani was dismissed - only that it was not related to his job performance.

Bajestani had been in charge of leading the country's largest nuclear project after earlier completing a similar project at the Brown's Ferry Nuclear Plant in Athens, Ala.

According to the divorce case, Bajestani withdrew $1.5 million from a TVA deferred compensation account. He admitted during the divorce case that he was not truthful when he gave as the reason for the withdrawal that he had a financial hardship.

He said he had to pay taxes on the early withdrawal and received a net amount of $975,000.

The native of Iran said that the money was losing its value in the TVA account and he decided to buy some property with it in Tehran, Iran.

Bajestani said he could not send the money directly to Iran from the U.S., so he funneled $600,000 of it through a bank in Canada.

He said the money went to his brother-in-law. He said the money has not yet been invested because he did not fulfill his commitment to send over $1 million.

Testimony in the divorce was that Bajestani had made other early withdrawals from the TVA account in the amounts of $37,000, $194,000 and $85,000, among others.

Bajestani was married for seven years to Maryam Ghorashi, also a native of Iran and an engineer. They had two children together. Bajestani was married previously.

Bajestani has been in the U.S. since 1975 and a U.S. citizen since 1982.

In the divorce, Bajestani described his job stating: “I’m the vice president for Watts Bar Unit 2 project. It’s a new nuclear plant that’s being built and this is going to be the first new plant after 20 years that is going to come online in the United States.”

Bajestani signed a contract for his current job in October of 2007. He stated: “The contract is for five years and one year after the plant comes online. So it’s for a total of six years. The contract that is written, it actually says that when the plant comes online and runs for some period of time reliably and safely, then there are some incentives. So if you add everything, it’s a six-year contract, essentially.”

In 2006, Bajestani had income of approximately $594,000. He testified that his base salary in 2006 was approximately $240,000, and that the remaining amount consisted of bonuses. His wages including bonuses for 2007 were approximately $599,000. However, in 2007 he declared approximately $2,293,000 in taxable income because of withdrawing the $1.5 million out of his TVA deferred compensation account in 2007.

Bajestani said, “Deferred compensation, this is a contract that was put in place, essentially what they call it is the golden handcuff, to essentially to get you to stay for the duration of the whole project. But you have to meet certain requirements to be able to get the money that’s in this contract. Specifically, budget, schedule, that if you miss - and the safe and reliable operation of the unit after it comes online. And if you miss any of this, essentially, you won’t
get this deferred compensation.

“That bonus is based on performance of the project, performance of the certain milestones that you are to meet, budget, schedule and TVA’s overall performance.”

He said for 2008, “TVA overall performance has not been good because of various issues that we have had this year, drought. The performance of the fossil units and nuclear units hasn’t been good, so we missed a lot of milestones.”

Concerning the $1.5 million withdrawal, he said, "The reason I withdrew that money was because this money, the deferred compensation money, is actually in the market, you know, invested in the market. So I looked at the market and the market wasn’t going to go anywhere; actually it was losing its value, the dollar was losing its value, and I had this opportunity that I discussed with (wife) to invest some money outside the U.S. and specifically buy some property back in Tehran, Iran. So I decided to withdraw that money and invest it outside the U.S."


Man, 23, Who Had Spent Little Time In Local Jails Facing 57 Months In Federal Prison

A 23-year-old man who had picked up a number of criminal cases but spent little time in jail is now facing 57 months in federal prison. Judge Sandy Mattice sentenced Demarcus Heard on Tuesday afternoon. The sentencing range was 57-71 months, and the prosecution did not oppose the low end of the range. Attorney Joe DeGaetano said in the past that Heard had served "30 days here ... (click for more)

Latest Hamilton County Jail Booking Report - And Mug Shots

Here is the latest jail booking report from Hamilton County: ADAMS, TINA DEANNE     512 ROGERS LANE TUNNEL HILL, 30755     43     Hamilton County          AGGRAVATED ASSAULT     LEAVING SCENE ACCIDENT DEATH OR PERSONAL INJURY     DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE     ... (click for more)

UAW Is Dropping Appeal Because Of Opposition

Let's tell the truth here: the UAW attempted infiltration of the Nissan plant in Smyrna, Tenn. a couple of years back and lost. They appealed to the NLRB three times and each time the vote went against the UAW more and more.   When you consider the local political opposition, citizenry and worker opposition, sentiment toward the UAW is even more staggering in Chattanooga ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Clemson Prayer And Much More

Clemson’s football program, which has won 11 games in each of the past two years and was ranked 8 th in the nation after whipping Ohio State in this year’s Orange Bowl, has just been “blind-sided.” The Freedom from Religion Foundation claims Coach Dabo Sweeney and his staff are doing far too much “to promote Christianity to their student athletes.” Clemson promptly roared back ... (click for more)

Donnie Tyndall Hired To Lead Tennessee Basketball Program

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- University of Tennessee vice chancellor and director of athletics Dave Hart announced Tuesday the hiring of Donnie Tyndall as the Volunteers’ 19 th  men’s basketball coach. Tyndall will be introduced at a press conference at 2 p.m. ET at Pratt Pavilion. The 43-year-old Tyndall joins Tennessee from Southern Mississippi, where he posted ... (click for more)

Cleveland, Thompson Knock Trojans Out Of Share Of 5-AAA Lead

CLEVELAND, Tenn. – Cleveland right-hander Taylor Thompson sent Soddy-Daisy hitters a clear message early in Tuesday’s District 5-AAA baseball game – “I’m on tonight, boys.” Thompson threw a neat three-hitter and struck out 10 as the Blue Raiders defeated Soddy-Daisy, 6-1, at Raider Field to knock the Trojans out of a share of first place in the district. “If I get settled ... (click for more)